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'From barnstormers to jets'

Stinson Municipal Airport marks 100 years

A Texas airport named for a pioneering aviation family is marking a century of continuous operation in 2015 by celebrating both its niche in the history of flight and its transformation to a thoroughly modern general aviation facility.

Stinson Municipal Airport, located just south of San Antonio International Airport’s Class C airspace, opened in 1915 as the Stinson School of Flying, run by Katherine, Marjorie, and Eddie Stinson, on land rented from the city.

Katherine would go on to make her name (after soloing in four hours) by becoming the fourth American woman to earn a pilot certificate. She became a stunt pilot who performed as “the Flying Schoolgirl,” and was recognized as the first woman pilot to fly such maneuvers as a “loop the loop.” Katherine is credited with being “the first person of either sex to fly an airplane at night,” according to an online biography.

Her brother Eddie created the Stinson Aircraft Co., which produced airplanes, many now known as classics, until 1950 when production of its last model, the Stinson 108, ended.

The Stinsons would likely be pleased to learn that the base for their flying school—which closed when a World War I ban shut down civilian aviation—is thriving in the twenty-first century as a city-owned, towered, 24/7 airport with two paved runways, about 85 based GA aircraft, many thousands of operations annually, and a variety of published IFR procedures.

“Year-to-date operations have increased 17 percent over last year,” said Yasmina Platt, AOPA Central/Southwest regional manager, adding that a new fixed-base operation, GateOne, and a new airport sandwich shop, the Brown Bag, complement numerous aviation businesses, and an assortment of recent capital improvements, in adding to Stinson Municipal Airport’s ever-growing aeronautical appeal.

The airport is home to the Women in Aviation, International organization’s new Alamo City chapter that will participate in Girls in Aviation Day 2015 activities on Sept. 26. The airport also is home base for the Fort Sam Houston Flying Club.

As appropriate for an airport with a strong claim to a place in aviation history, Stinson Municipal Airport is the site of the Texas Air Museum, Stinson Chapter, a facility staffed entirely by volunteers and offering a diversity of exhibits, including Katherine’s Blériot airplane.

A vintage aircraft show highlighted Independence Day weekend activities to commemorate the airport’s centennial—and coverage of the occasion helped tell the story of Stinson Municipal’s beginnings to area residents.

Further activities to mark the milestone are expected this fall.

“Pilots should make it a point to put Stinson Municipal on their list of destinations, and join in the celebration of this general aviation gem,” Platt said.

Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: Airport, Airport Advocacy, Advocacy

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